William Clare Roberts, "Revolution and the Art of Writing: Strauss after Marx after Strauss"
Abstract: Despite Leo Straussâs lifelong and vehement anti-Marxism, his writings and activities demonstrate objective affinities for and proximities to certain Marxist positions and analyses. With Marx, Strauss stresses the irreducibility of practice, and insists therefore that saying must be grasped as a sort of doing. On this basis, and in a similar way to Althusser, Strauss argues that the texts of political philosophy must be read with an eye to what they do not and cannot say. As a consequence of this method of reading, Strauss agrees with Macpherson that Hobbes and Locke provide the clearest philosophical articulation of incipient capitalism, and denies that political liberalism can have any reality apart from capitalism. Like Lenin and Gramsci, Strauss adopts a fundamentally non-liberal practice of politics as a struggle for hegemony carried out among antagonistic regimes or ways of life. Given these affinities and proximities, this paper will consider the possibility that Strauss, despite being a subjective enemy of Marxism, is an objective ally.
Werner Bonefeld "Capitalist Crisis and Authoritarian Liberal- ism: on Ordoliberalism and the Strong State"
Abstract: The contribution examines the German Ordoliberalism that developed in the early 1930 as a project at resolving the then crisis. Their argument about the dangers of proletarianization and the economic necessity of a strong, market enforcing state, became later associated with the neoliberalism of the Freiburg School and especially the so-called social market economy. Against the background of the crisis of neoliberal political economy, examination of the ordoliberals stance reveals a critique of laissez faire capitalism on the basis of the strong state, a state that is, which enforces the market by the provision of a market facilitating social policy. This policy is directed against proletarianization, and mass democratic organisation of the state, and attempts the integration of the proletariat on the basis of the rule of private property and community. The paper argues that the Ordoliberal conception of the state as the political organiser of the free market reformulates Marxâs (and Engelâs) critique of the state as the executive committee of the bourgeoisie in the context of mass democracy and entrenched class relations. Exploration of this tradition reveals important insights the paper argues that these are of great significance for todayâs understanding of the bourgeois project.
Zhivka Valiavicharska "What is Soviet Power? Direct Democracy and the State in Leninâs 1917 Writings"
Lenin's State and Revolution and Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?--two âsisterâ texts, written almost simultaneously on the eve of October 1917âare Leninâs most lucid attempts to imagine modes of state governance that would replace the coercive and violent mechanisms of the âstate machine.â In both texts he insists on âreplacingâ the standing army and the police with a different, already existing set of institutions, one that embraces the industrial mode of production while adopting the grassroots models of self-governance of the Soviets. Most importantly, it asserts that Bolshevik state control is only possible in a symbiotic configuration with the sovietsâthe peasantsâ, and workersâ, and soldiersâ councilsâby embracing their flexible grassroots, self-regulating âapparatusâ of direct participatory democracy. In these writings, as well as in his post-1917 work, Leninâs attention is occupied with the question how much to retain from the existing institutions of the state, how much to abolish, and what alternative forms of authority or social organization would emerge in its place. And yet, the coercive force available to the state retains its appeal as a political agent in both the revolutionary overthrow and in post-revolutionary transformation, posing irreconcilable conceptual contradictions. Like the unreconciled relationship between democracy and dictatorship which, often used synonymously, are bound in a circular fashionâperhaps to point to a future understanding that would transcend their opposition and render it uselessâboth state centralism and self-organized, grassroots forms of governance retain their competing presence, posing unresolved tensions. This paper returns to Leninâs views on state overthrow, abolition, and revolutionary transformation, to explore their temporal and conceptual ambivalences in relationship to Leninâs attempt to formulate alternative notions of autonomy, collective self-governance, and the state, while focusing on Leninâs emphasis on the stateâs ability to bring into being subjects through productive forms of subordination.